Driving While Intoxicated Offense Trial
If you have been charged with a Driving While Intoxicated offense, your case will be handled by the Texas state prosecutor in the state’s criminal court system. At first, you will go to a series of court appearances while the state determines the exact charges it will try you for. These court appearances take place in county criminal courts in Texas – unless your Driving While Intoxicated offense is being tried as a felony. Felonies are handled in district courts.
When you are charged, you likely will be called to appear in court for the first time anywhere between a couple of weeks to a few months. Your appearance really is determined by the number of Driving While Intoxicated cases the courts are handling at the time. What you should know about appearing in court for the first time is that you must physically be present. If you retain a lawyer following your first criminal hearing, then you do not have to appear with your lawyer for hearings following your initial one. Your defense attorney will handle your case from that point on – gathering the evidence, researching your case and filing motions on your behalf. Sometimes offenders choose to attend all of the hearings, and if you want to be present in court for all of them, then you must formally let the court know. If you are found innocent at your first hearing, then the case is over.
However, often this is not the case. In Texas, Driving While Intoxicated cases are scrutinized by the state prosecutor and you should expect to hire good legal counsel to battle it out in the courts. There are a couple of directions your defense attorney could go in as your case progresses. Your attorney may counsel you in accepting a plea bargain. If you enter into a guilty plea, you will get certain benefits in return. For example, instead of jail time, you may be put on probation, pay fees, take education classes on substance abuse and/or perform community service.
If you decide not to accept a plea bargain—which is completely within your rights—your case will progress to a criminal trial and will be tested in the court of law. At your trial, your defense attorney will present your evidence, cross examine the witnesses the state brings forth and most importantly, challenge the validity of the state’s evidence. This latter phase is when a criminal trial can really fall apart. For example, your attorney may challenge the accuracy of the blood alcohol content tests performed on you.
You should expect your attorney to have prepared all of the evidence for you case and shared it with the prosecution, as this is a requirement of Texas state law. A good attorney is going to look at all of the details — down to the granular level to determine if your human rights were upheld under the law and if any tests or procedures were administered incorrectly. Faulty evidence and procedures pop up all the time in Driving While Intoxicated cases, and it is your attorney’s duty to find those weak areas and bring them to the state prosecution. Let it be known that the state will go after your case hard — as they see you as a threat to public safety. It’s true that your poor decisions have gotten you where you are, but that doesn’t mean your punishment fits the crime. Your judge and sometimes your jury are there to determine if all procedures were followed and if there is recourse in certain situations — such as for first-time offenders. Allow your attorney to do his or her work diligently. You do your part by providing as much evidence and personal testimony to your attorney as you can.
Your attorney and the state prosecutor will both argue their sides before a judge—and sometimes also before a jury—and the case will be decided. If you win, your Driving While Intoxicated offense will be cleared from your criminal record. If you lose your court case, the court will decide your punishment including fees, probation, the suspension of your license and even jail time.